When you think of recovering from drugs and alcohol, you probably think of all the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with each substance (like the ones we’ve discussed with abusing drugs like Oxycontin and Xanax). But that’s only the first hurdle to recovery. After the physical acute withdrawal symptoms, a person goes head-to-head with post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). In this post, we’ll explore what this is, why it’s the longest and the hardest part of drug and alcohol recovery, and how to deal with it.
What is post-acute withdrawal?
Post-acute withdrawal is the stage of recovery where you have less physical symptoms and more emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms occur because, as your brain’s chemistry starts to return to normal, the chemicals are fluctuating while they try to find a new equilibrium.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms
While the acute withdrawal stage of recovery is different for everyone depending on the drug they are recovering from, most people experience similar post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, according to addictionsandrecover.org, include:
- Mood swings
- Variable energy
- Low enthusiasm
- Variable concentration
- Disturbed sleep
Why post-acute withdrawal symptoms are the hardest part of recovery
Recovery is a stressful challenge. Unfortunately, stress is a major trigger for drug and alcohol relapse. PAWS makes it hard to stay clean because:
- Symptoms change sporadically – How they change depends on how far along you are in recovery. They change minute by minute and hour by hour in the start, so it feels like a horrible roller coaster. Later in recovery, they will disappear for weeks and months at a time. But they can randomly show up again and hit you harder than ever. So keep your guard up.
- There is no trigger for most post-acute withdrawal episodes – Some days you will wake up and be irritable and lacking energy for apparently no reason. These episodes can last a few days as well.
- Recovery time is long and tiresome – Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last up to two years. This often catches people off guard when they have long stretches of feeling good, followed up by sudden symptoms. This is very important to keep in mind. If you think your symptoms will only last a few months, you will get your hopes up only to be disappointed and inclined to relapse. Be patient and take it one day at a time.
Dealing with PAWS at Gallus Detox Centers
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients.” While addiction treatment medications help deal with acute withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy helps you take control over your life when you have PAWS. That’s why the Gallus Detox team will work you on a plan for recovery after your successful detox with us. We offer a variety of proven-successful addiction detox programs such as:
If you or you or your loved are dealing with alcohol or drug abuse and need help with the first step on the road to recovery, call Gallus Detox Centers today at 888-228-9114 or contact us online.